26 INDUSTRIAL DISTRIBUTION / March/April 2014 www.inddist.com
are distracting from selling? Do they spend too much time in the
office? Helping in the warehouse? Delivering product? Filling out
reports? Updating their customer database? Doing quotes? What
activities can be taken off their plate so they can invest more time
ID: What do you feel is the most important thing that distributors
can do to increase their sales?
Athan: Strategically integrate sales and marketing. Unfortunately,
these two departments often have little to no communication.
This limits the effectiveness of the marketing campaigns because
there is no sales support. This also limits the effectiveness of sales
because there is not one unified message going out to prospects
and customers. Sales and marketing should be operating as one
cohesive unit with the same strategic objectives. Marketing creates
interest or finds interested prospects and customers as the sales
team turns that interest into revenue. Sales and marketing should
work together to create one common message that creates a compelling story to buy. Then, deliver this message through both sales
and marketing channels.
Hartkopf: Pricing. Many distributors don’t understand their
profitability by account, by salesperson, and by supplier. It’s a
lot of data, but getting through that data can quickly drop 2-5
percent to the bottom line, which typically means doubling net
Three Reasons Well-Trained Salespeople are
so Important from Steve Hartkopf:
1.Well-trained salespeople help customers decide which products to use for critical applications and
2. They are leaders. They command respect and influence within the distributor organization,
with key suppliers, and with the customer. They can
expedite deliveries, negotiate lower supplier prices,
command higher prices at the customer, and rally-the-troops at critical moments more effectively than an
average sales rep.
3.Their tendency to command premium prices helps keep their employer profitable during recessions and helps identify price-hunter customers that
need either a price increase or an exit strategy.
profits. I’ve been involved in pricing initiatives at two distributors
and one manufacturer. Percentage-wise they all produced similar
results but at the manufacturer that meant $4.5M delivered to the
bottom line. That was 96 percent of the business unit’s price gains
for the year. Price gains are basically all profit. We didn’t need to
buy more products or raw materials, we didn’t need to add any
new accounts, and we didn’t need to hire anyone. All we did was
manage pricing better. Pricing is the fastest way to higher sales
and more profits available to any business.
Metcalf: One of the most important things you can do is have a vision for the company. Begin with the end in mind, and then work
out the steps to achieve the envisioned goal. Salespeople want
to accomplish and succeed. With a proper vision in mind, and by
formulating the steps needed along the way to keep the vision
alive, revenue goals will be exceeded, salespeople will be productive, turnover will be obsolete, and your company will grow in any
economic or political environment.
The Expert Bios:
George Athan is a business strategy consultant and sales trainer
who helps companies, business owners, and executives rapidly
grow their organizations through mastering four key performance
areas: Strategy, Innovation, Marketing, & Sales.
Steve Hartkopf has nearly 30 years of business experience in the
industrial and electrical industries. He has held executive positions
at SupplyForce, Hagemeyer, Industrial Distribution Group (IDG),
and TE. Steve’s experience includes both manufacturing and distribution with functional responsibilities in marketing, sales, channel
management, strategic pricing, and ecommerce. Steve founded
Aligned Marketing in 2008.
Tom Metcalf is the founder and President of TeleNotes, a CRM
software that helps salespeople get stuff done. He is a CSP (
Certified Sales Professional) with over 15 years of experience as a
CRM consultant. For over 20 years, he has worked extensively with
companies seeking to improve their time and territory management processes. His expertise has aided thousands of salespeople
increase their productivity in the field, close more deals, and spend
more time with customers. ID
“Sales and marketing should be operating as one
cohesive unit with the same strategic objectives.
Marketing creates interest or finds interested
prospects and customers as the sales team turns
that interest into revenue,” says George Athan,
MindStorm Strategic Consulting